QualiTrace is an award winning traceability and anti-counterfeiting AgriTech startup company based in Accra, Ghana. That provides track and trace technology to authenticate and verify agro-based product inputs and outputs. In this e-Interview, Kenneth Nelson, the co-founder and CEO speaks with Alaba Ayinuola on how his brand is improving the livelihood of farmers and other stakeholders by empowering them to fight against fake agro input and assuring quality, using innovative technologies to trace food to the farm gates with just a click and Ghana producing innovative AgriTech Startups that equal compete globally. Excerpts.
Tell us about QualiTrace and the role you play?
The QualiTrace founded in 2017, has a concept built on the concept of traceability where a consumer can trace food produce to the farm gates.
QualiTrace is an Agri-Tech start-up Company that uses track and trace technology to authenticate product agro inputs (such as seeds and fertilizers) and outputs. QualiTrace not only authenticates but also provides a clear simple means by which players in any given supply chain can trace products along the chain till the final consumer also independently verifies the source and quality of the product.
QualiTrace also has a user friendly Artificial Intelligence technology (mobile app) that helps farmers identify diseases and pest infestation on crops and recommend treatment and the best quality agro input to fight it. Simply snap a photo of the affected area of the crop area and the app will predict the pest or disease is and recommend the right agro input. We provide technological solutions to improve the livelihoods of farmers.
Our vision is to bring innovative technologies to make life healthier for consumers (farmers & consumers)
I am a founding member and CEO. But, I prefer to be seen as the leader who literally leads the way by setting examples. I put myself out there by working the operations and business development of the company to encourage my team to put in their maximum best.
What was your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
QualiTrace emerged from a social impact AgriTech competition called the Kosmos Innovation Center AgriTech challenge and won the 2017 edition with $50,000 seed investment to proof concept.
The competition was a 12 month training programme for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas and dreams to make a difference in the Agriculture industry in Ghana and Africa as a whole. The programme is designed to allow individuals to form teams from the selected based on different but complimenting skills, academic backgrounds and experience with the same vision to solve a specific problem.
Winning the competition was “no walk in the park”. Twelve months training and eliminations at 3 stages before winners (team) are declared based on dedication, hard work, perseverance and “fire in the belly”. Prior to winning, our capital came from our own pockets and investing our time, energy and visions.
What are the challenges, competition and how are you overcoming them?
The startup life and road of an entrepreneur is not for the weak. Hours of ideation, try and error, calculated risk and tears. There is no getting to the top in entrepreneurship. There is no end. When you get to a goal, you have to set another goal. You go far, so you can be strong enough to go further.
There are both internal and external challenges. Internal challenges ranges from team dynamics to raising extra funds to grow. External challenges comes with adaptation of your solution (technology) by users (farmers), people not believing it could be done, and most importantly, pressure from family tiers.
To an investor and other stakeholders in the industry, there is competition, but to me, the only competition I see is myself. Delivering and achieving more than the goals set is my competition. The focus now is to build the basic foundation of a business that will change the status quo in the agriculture industry.
Overcoming challenges in the startup and entrepreneurship world is a daily routine. It is what truly defines what Entrepreneurship is all about. What keeps me going in overcoming challenges is, I keep reminding myself “what is the purpose”. I proud of my achievements but it doesn’t mean I settle for them. I seek growth for myself and QualiTrace. Competition is one way of saying, “can you survive”!. To be the best, you must outwork the rest and overcoming challenges clearly means committing to every part of your life to build a brand that people can relate to.
How does your organisation measure it’s impacts?
Fighting counterfeit agrochemicals means ensuring farmers verifying their agro inputs before purchase. We measures impacts in two main ways. Number of counterfeits detected and the number of verifications on agro inputs purchased. Ensuring quality is key to produce quality food.
What is the future for QualiTrace and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
The focus is to be the best quality assurance and anti-counterfeiting company in Africa. We want to see QualiTrace as a Brand name that assures quality across Africa using innovative technologies to trace food to the farm gates with just a click. One way to do that is through collaboration. It is either you collaborate or you die!
How is your business contributing to the development of the agricultural sector in Ghana and Africa?
QualiTrace is gradually reducing the number of fake agrochemicals brought to Africa and ensure we produce quality and safe food for international markets and using simple technologies to do so. We believe in creating a system that is transparent and will enhance food safety and security.
What is your view on the development of Ghana business ecosystem?
Ghana and Africa as a whole has all it needs (resources) to grow exceedingly. To become the leaders and drivers of several industries from agriculture to technology to human capital and we continue to realize that from the number of Western investors coming to Africa to do business. Ghana is producing innovative AgriTech Startups that equal compete with the rest of the world as well as other African countries.
What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa.
Very few entrepreneurs can clearly state their purpose or why they want to be entrepreneurs. Once you can identify the reason why you do what you do, then you are half way through. If it was easy, everyone will do it but the journey as an entrepreneur takes more than just saying it. Just take the step and DARE TO DREAM!
What inspires you and keeps you going?
What keeps me going is my family. What I mean by family is my immediate family, my staff, my co-founders and my friends. What keeps me going is knowing very well that I am making a difference in the life of people and changing Ghana and Africa through innovation.
What inspire me are the challenges I face and overcome each day. As the saying goes, “if you do what is easy, life will be hard; but if you do what is hard, life will be easy”.
How do you relax and what books do you read?
Spending time with family, going on trips, and a little bit of sports keeps me relaxed. I read books mainly on Leadership, motivational speeches, and strategic and planning books.
Kenneth A. Nelson and team recently in Dubai presenting QualiTrace and QualiScan.
Born on the 6th of January, 1990 to Ghanaian parents, Kenneth A. Nelson is an Agribusiness expert with skills in supply chain management, marketing and sales.
Author Mark Twain once said that, “the two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you figure out why”. I cannot say if I have figured out the ‘why’ factor yet, but I believe entrepreneurship has always been my awakening. My motivation in life is to solve complex challenges and problems and making a difference in people’s life. Probably not for the fame but for the sweet satisfaction that you are closer to becoming the likes of Nelson Mandela and Albert Einstein.
My goals change from time to time with respect to the task or challenge that comes my way. But I also believe my utmost goal in life is to be remembered as a great Person.
Kindly with http://qualitracegh.com/
Healthpoint: Providing Innovative Healthcare And Health Finance Solutions In Africa
Kemi Ayinde is the Chief Executive Officer at Healthpoint and a startup engineer promoting inclusion health in Africa. She feels hurt and crushed for every human being that dies of common ailments like malaria. But believes everyone from every class of life deserves easy access to quality healthcare, so more lives should be saved, and life expectancy should be on the increase. In this exclusive interview with Alaba Ayinuola of Business Africa Online, Kemi shares how her startup is providing health financial intermediation, promoting and achieving Health Inclusiveness in Nigeria and Africa as a whole with some of their CSR projects. Excerpt.
Alaba: Kindly tell us about Healthpoint, the gap it is filling and the strategic role you play?
Kemi: Healthpoint is a holistic health management solution aimed at promoting universal health coverage in Nigeria, Africa and the world at large. We are a health tech startup providing telehealth and health insurance plans at affordable monthly subscriptions.
Healthpoint is propelled towards achieving global health inclusiveness by making healthcare most easily accessible to everyone; whether young or old, male or female, sick or healthy; regardless of their socio-economic status. Our goal is to ensure that every human being has easy access to healthcare and medical attention when needed in such a way as not to deplete their finances. People should be able to access vaccinations, preventive care, medical treatment, medical advice, health tips, updates and information relevant to their lives and environment.
Our mission is to reduce to the barest minimum every excuse to being unable to access quality healthcare in our society. With this, we would achieve reduced mortality rate, and increase life expectancy.
One of our core solutions is health financial intermediation wherein we buy bulk health cover plans from HMOs and Health insurance underwriters and offer them to people at very affordable monthly subscription fees.
Alaba: What is your startup capital and how were you able to raise it?
Kemi: We are only a few months old and we needed to perfect our product and market fit which we have done successfully. We are at a point where we are ready to scale and are open to investment from venture capitalists and other investors. We have since been running on our personal seed capital.
Alaba: How is Healthpoint different from other Health Startups in Africa?
Kemi: Healthpoint is born out of the passion and the calling to make healthcare most easily accessible to everyone, young or old, rich or poor. We not only provide telehealth solutions to bring healthcare right in your fingertips, but we also do financial intermediation for people and organizations who wish to acquire health cover plans for themselves, their families, and their teams but do not have the funds to, by buying these health plans in bulk and providing it to them at affordable monthly rates that are very friendly to their pockets and work well with their cash flows.
Alaba: What are the challenges, competitions and how are you overcoming them?
Kemi: The health needs in Nigeria alone is very huge and can very much accommodate and absorb every innovative and relevant health solutions so I believe we have a very large market and we would very much welcome every contribution towards achieving universal health coverage for Africa.
Alaba: What’s the future for Healthpoint and what steps are you taking in achieving them?
Kemi: Like I mentioned earlier, Healthpoint is aimed at promoting and achieving Health Inclusiveness in Nigeria and Africa as a whole. So we are looking forward to a point where we implement our innovative healthcare and health finance solutions that accommodates everyone from all social strata across the African continent to be able to easily access healthcare without having to deal with financial risks as a result.
We are a team of very innovative, creative young and vibrant minds that are dedicated and committed to actualizing our goals and objectives per time. We are a tech savvy and proactive team that rides on technology to drive our goals and vision with no holds barred.
Alaba: How is your business contributing to the development of Africa health ecosystem?
Kemi: The African health ecosystem is very vast and still green, and so we have very huge plans to impact the health space significantly with different activities and solutions. We run an annual program that provides Free Health Insurance Cover for Widows, Orphans and less privileged every year. This year, our beneficiaries sprang from four orphanage and vulnerable children care homes as well as widows in Nigeria.
Healthpoint is providing them free health insurance cover for a period of one year to cater for their medical consultations, treatments, tests, prescriptions and drugs and so much more. When we listened to their stories and saw how difficult it was for them to afford healthcare, it was very touching and they were indeed very grateful that Healthpoint could think of something as this to help them with.
Alaba: What advice would you give potential entrepreneurs who intend to start a business or invest in Africa?
Kemi: For budding entrepreneurs in Africa, I would say always maintain the passion, close your ears to all negatives, keep moving like a train, trust God and above all, let the vision keep driving you until you get to that point where you’ve always dream of. Africa is a hub of emerging markets waiting for you to pilot.
Alaba: How do you feel as an African entrepreneur?
Kemi: Being an African entrepreneur for me is a huge privilege that avails me the opportunity to contribute in solving some of Africa’s biggest challenges across different sectors of modern day living. It is a somewhat challenging business environment, but if I remain determined and very passionate about my overall goal, I am convinced that my impact will be felt and recognized in the African emerging markets.
Alaba: How do you relax and what books do you read?
Kemi: The saying is true that “all work and no play make Jack a dull boy”. As hardworking as I am, I am also a fun loving person and I particularly enjoy travelling and going for vacations. I love to listen to inspiring music and watch some comedy once a while.
Most of all, I enjoy being home with family. It is very fulfilling for me.
Afripreneur Profile: Vumile Msweli, CEO At Hesed Consulting
Vumile Msweli is the Chief Executive officer for Hesed consulting. A consulting firm specializing in commerce acceleration; career coaching; women empowerment; facilitation and training on the African continent, with presence in Nigeria and South Africa. She has previously worked for reputable multi-national institutions such as Barclays, Investec, Nedbank, First National Bank and Vodafone. Vumile is an Operations; Finance and Strategy executive with experience in both the telecommunications and finance sectors.
She has successfully led global teams in Africa (Nigeria; Kenya; Democratic Republic of Congo; Zambia; Lesotho; Ghana; Tanzania; Mozambique and South Africa); and Europe (Scotland; Isle of Man and England). These teams held various specialties such as Operations; Client Services; Strategy; Business Development and Risk Management. Vumile was most recently the Client Services Partner for Africa and the Middle East at Vodafone where she oversaw Service Strategy and Operations for Corporate Clients globally.
Vumile is an avid coach and international speaker having spoken in conferences; expos; workshops around the globe on topics such as leadership; women empowerment; finance matters and conducting business in Africa. She has spoken at the African Union in Ethiopia, Women’s Economic Forum in India USAID in Zambia and various organisations across the globe. She is the host of Vumi and Veuve host Women in Commerce as well as has her own regular weekly feature in Nigeria’s largest publication The Guardian.
Vumile has been featured in publications such as China’s Rare Birds(2018); The Guardian Nigeria (2018); True Love Magazine (2012); Destiny Magazine (2011; 2016 and 2017); Bona Magazine (2015); Essays of Africa Magazine (2016) as well as The Thinker magazine (2015). She has been featured on Ghana’s ETV, is regular contributor on SAFM (radio station) and was the business anchor for Voice of Wits (radio station). She’s a guest writer on business; finance issues and women empowerment for Essays of Africa and Destiny Connect.
- Bachelor of Commerce: Accounting Sciences (University of Pretoria)
- Bachelor of Commerce: Finance Honours (University of Johannesburg)
- Masters Business Administration (University of London, United Kingdom)
- Executive Education (New York University, United States of America)
- Executive Education (GIBS, South Africa and GIMPA, Ghana)
- Doctorate Applied Leadership (UGSM, Switzerland currently studying)
- Women’s Economic Forum Woman of Excellence (2018)
- Brand South Africa Play Your Part Ambassador (2018)
- Black Management Forum Young Professional of the Year (2018)
- 34th Most Influential Young South African by Avance Media (2018)
- Gauteng Premier Award for Excellence in Leadership (2017)
- ABSIP Game Changer (2016)
- Mail and Guardian Top 200 most influential Young South Africans (2016)
- Elle Boss of the Year in the Corporate Category (2016)
- Gordon Institute of Business Science: VAEP (2016)
- Vodafone CEO Award (2016)
- University of Witwatersrand Radio’s Brand New Heavy in Business (2016)
Cooking As A Calling | Chef Femi Aliu
It is a world filled with different people having different interests. So, I’m not surprised at all that we all see cooking differently.
To someone, cooking might just be a necessity because the stomach has grumbled for the umpteenth time. To another, cooking is a responsibility, either as a wife, mother, the only girl in the block or the eldest person in the house.
To yet another, cooking is a “no go area” …LOL. Indeed, it is a world full of many people, and what makes the world interesting is actually this diversity.
So, while there is a crop of persons fleeing from cooking, here I am, embracing the art of cooking as a lifestyle —better put, a calling.
Yes! Cooking for me, is a calling, my calling that I have positively responded to and have been walking the journey since the past 15 years.
Responding to cooking as a call has left me from a mediocre state to an expert level, adding the title “Chef” to my name, a badge of honor I wear on with pride, fulfilling its course.
Food is one of the basic social amenities for humans made cooking highly essential and Important, hence, the swam of food vendors.
I, for a while, nursed the burden of wanting to see people eat tasty and healthy meals, and not only that, eat it at their own convenience. This particularly fueled my passion and love for cooking.
I can say that I am living a purposeful life with Cooking, because cooking, for me is beyond a business venture. It is a solution to a problem I saw, a purpose wherein I am able to attend to an urgent need and it has enabled me to reach out to the busy professionals, recovering patients, family, couples and friends.
I Am Chef Femi Aliu
Personal Chef/ Founder Chef Femi Culinary Services
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